One Hundred Years

Over the course of three years, from 2018 to 2021, portrait photographer and Hackney resident Jenny Lewis documented a century of life in the form of 100 tender portraits, her subjects ranging from a new-born to a centenarian. Reflecting and celebrating the many nationalities, identities, genders, ages and perspectives that make up this diverse pocket of London, Lewis’s honest and compelling portraits – of refugees and retirees, adolescents and allotmenteers, aspiring and failed rock stars, alongside pigeon racers, jewellers, cobblers, barbers, new mothers, brothers, sons and daughters – present 100 unique lives and their personal stories.

Tracking down her subjects in youth groups, yoga classes, residential homes, sports clubs, and neighbours, as well as on Instagram, in local GP surgeries, and by word of mouth, Lewis has created a powerful collective portrait of both our past and future. Her vibrantly coloured portraits, taken in intimate domestic spaces or places that hold personal significance for the sitter, portray her subjects staring gently and at times defiantly into the camera.

The cumulative effect of Lewis’s encyclopaedic project is commemorative and intensely emotive, capturing lives in the process of being lived while underscoring our own mortality. As Lewis has said: ‘I’ve always thought the ordinary is pretty extraordinary, so I hope the series will encourage people to take notice of who is around them, to give people time to appreciate the resilience and richness of the human experience.’

“The only rule about ageing, it seems, is that there are no rules about ageing. Just look at the number of brisk, bright faces in their eighties and nineties, or at the wise, knowing ones in the early pages of the book. As for things like contentment and loss, pain and growth – well, they come and go as they please.

Perhaps it is the opposition between the tremendous scope of this project, and the close-up idiosyncrasies of the lives it contains, which makes it so potent. 100 fragments, cut from their context. The first lines of 100 stories. But oh, what stories. To look into their eyes, and to hear all that they have chosen to share, is to feel let in on the best kind of secret.”

Text extracted from Lucy Davies foreword.

The Book

Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis is an award winning portrait photographer whose main concerns have been visual story telling in her community, often championing women’s voices and the underrepresented. She has worked within her field both commercially and on personal projects for over twenty five years, successfully publishing three photographic monographs.

Her first book One Day young is an empowering portrait series of women shown the day they have a baby back in their own homes, stories of strength diluting the visual imagery of fear surrounding birth. Her second book Hackney Studios explores creative spaces, every artist suggesting the next, revealing the connectivity required to sustain creative practice and integrity rather fame being the most celebrated quality. Her third book is a collection of 100 portraits and interviews, from her community covering every age from one to one hundred, investigating mortality , the human condition from a diverse range of perspectives.

Her work is part of The National Portrait Gallery Collection and Birth Rites Collection. She regularly shows in International and National public institutions, showing at Kinship at Open Eye Gallery, The Taylor Wessing Portrait Award ,Arles Open Walls and Photo22 Melbourne.

From 2021 she has created 8 large scale public art installations of One Hundred Years in non-traditional art spaces. Doctors waiting rooms, community centres, along public footways along the canal, a 150 metre long display of all 100 portraits with their quotes is currently on display in Melbourne Australia for 12 months and a 14 m high permanent Installation of all 100 portraits can be seen in the Britannia leisure Centre, Shoreditch. A celebration of the community back in the community for all to enjoy. She is increasingly interested in working in the public realm, finding new audiences for her work.

She is a mentor within the photography community, lecturing and running workshops nationwide. Her portraits are an authentic representation of her subjects in their own homes, workspaces or local environment developing a strong visual language and historical documentation of the way we live.
IG: _jennylewis_
Twitter: @JennyLewisPhoto